North Penn girls defend SOL Continental crown

TOWAMENCIN >> Saturday morning brought sunny skies and a dose of unseasonably warm weather to the area.

Inside the Rick Carroll Natatorium, however, it felt and sounded very much like February, as the North Penn girls do what they always do this time of year, combine their efforts and abilities in the pursuit of a conference crown.
“This season we’ve been working really hard so this was the ultimate goal,” Knights sophomore Claudia Thamm said of getting the postseason started. “It’s a nice accomplishment as a team.”
North Penn piled up a mountainous 591 points to top all other comers, holding off strong performances by rivals Central Bucks East (380) and Souderton Area (290) to defend its Suburban One League Continental Conference title in stellar fashion.
“Very solid meet,” coach Jeff Faikish said of his squad, which — including Wednesday’s diving — won eight events and medaled in all 12. “They had a good meet, and a bunch of our kids who are rested swam very well. A couple kids made district cuts this morning so it’s a very positive feeling moving forward.”
Senior Kailyn Evans swam on two winning relays and took first in both the 200 IM and 100 breast, Heather Hartmann outlasted everyone in the 500 free, and Thamm — after winning the 50 free — was right back in the pool winning the 100 fly.
“It was fun — not something totally new to me — but the 50 free, I don’t usually swim,” said Thamm, “so that was a fun race, especially because I had so many teammates in that one.”
Thamm led one big wave of blue, as North Penn took three of the top four spots — Caroline Dunigan was fourth, Rosalinda Rivera was second, and Thamm’s 23.95 was nearly the best ever in the Rick Carroll waters.
“I was really going for the pool record,” Thamm said of the mark of 23.85, set in 2015. “Olivia DiStefano, she’s one to look up to. I just missed it, but I had a great time racing.”
Pennridge junior Morgan Scott broke her own pool record of a year ago, touching in 1:48.15 to beat her 200 free mark by over two seconds. Scott also won the 100 free and teammate Erin Shema took the 100 back.
Emily Hodges had a an all-around performance for Big Red, touching second in the breast, fourth in the IM and contributing on the silver-medal medley relay and bronze-medal free relay.
To survive this type of competition, North Penn put in the work, exemplified by the yeoman’s effort poured forth by Megan Zartman.
“She got second in the 500 then had a nine-minute turnaround to swim the 100 back, which is actually one of her favorite races,” Faikish said of the junior.
Zartman medaled in both, battling to fourth in the backstroke.
“The type of kids that we have here are so mentally tough that they can look at those events that are back-to-back events, and they believe that they are capable,” Faikish said. “It’s a testament to the type of girls that we have on this team.”
The divers are up next, with the district boys competition set for Friday night and the girls following Saturday morning, both at North Penn. The swimmers then compete at La Salle the following weekend.
“Two weeks now — such a short time now in my book,” Thamm said. “But I’m ready to go, ready to get back here on Monday and just work my butt off until then.”
“I have all the faith and confidence in my team to go out there and do exactly what we did last year,” Thamm said of the defending state champs, “even better though.”

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